April 21, 2024

Pride, prejudice, and  power

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BY BEN JEALOUS

President, People for the American Way

June is Pride month in the United States. In big cities and small communities, LGBTQ+ people and their friends, families, and allies will celebrate freedom and progress toward full equality. All fair-minded Americans can celebrate that progress. But there is a growing shadow over this year’s celebrations. The far-right political movement is aggressively trying to turn back the clock to a time when LGBTQ+ people were not treated equally under the law. Anti-equality legal groups and anti-equality politicians are pushing legal and political attacks on our most vulnerable young people. MAGA movement political operatives are trying to win elections by stirring up fear and hatred against LGBTQ+ people.

They are proposing and passing laws that are stunning in their cruelty. Some make it a crime for librarians to let students read books with gay themes and characters—or for teachers to provide supportive information to LGBTQ+ students. Some make it a crime for doctors to provide appropriate health care to transgender youth. In Texas, parents who are simply trying to love and support their trans kids can now be charged with child abuse.

That is beyond unacceptable. It is sadistic. Driving the passage of those laws is a false and inflammatory campaign to portray support for LGBTQ+ people as the equivalent of pedophilia. Right-wing elected activists and pundits smear gay people as threats to children, and equality advocates as “groomers.” That kind of smear is dangerous. The more elected officials and far right-wing activists spread the “groomer” lie, the more likely it is that some bigots will try to justify discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people as necessary to “protect” children and youth. And then there’s the Supreme Court. Historically, it was in June that the Supreme Court overturned state laws that made gay people criminals.

We need to make sure that people understand how much progress is at risk.  We’re just six months away from local, state, and national elections. Those elections will either give more power to the raging anti-freedom forces that want to take the country back—and move us all backwards—or they will help us move toward the goal of freedom and justice for all.

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